Warm are most things that start close to home. Emerging pop duo Warmland are Arnar Guðjónsson and Hrafn Thoroddsen—both prominent figures in the Icelandic music scene. Arnar is a producer and the lead singer and guitarist of Leave, while Hrafn is a founding member, singer and guitarist of Ensími and Jet Black Joe.
Night shift day shift
The band started as an in-house recording project in the studio the two members share. Arnar works as a producer in the day and Hrafn has the nights, they felt they needed a house band. “We set up a meeting, around two years ago,” says Hrafn. “It turns out that Arnar had started this project Warmland, in some form, and we kind of pooled our resources.”
The two set the direction for what they wanted to take the sound and production. The different elements they bring to the collaboration are audible, and between them, they handle everything from recording, production and mixing, to videos, stage lights and visuals.
“We set a goal that we didn’t want to have any barriers or limitations,” says Hrafn. “If an idea makes sense and is interesting, then we’ll allow it.”
Something completely new
At the core, the outcome is pop music given extra nuance by a fusion of electronic and acoustic sounds. Warmland use a drum kit and bass guitars alongside programmed electronic sounds, keyboards and synthesizers. Whatever a song needs, they’re unafraid of breaking out of the common pop structure. “I think we try to avoid doing similar stuff that we used to do in other projects,” says Arnar. “We’re are trying to bring the experience and create something completely new for us.”
There’s also a tension between melancholy and joy that gives the band its specific personality. The lyrics further add to this nuance.“It’s layers of different things,” says Arnar. “It has a melancholy vibe in the melodies, then it has the groove beneath. I play the drums and the bass, that’s my department; I am looking for groove in everything, so it moves you. On top of that, we have the more atmospheric soundscapes.”
True summer album
Their second single, the titular “Unison Love,” has an unusual structure, and one of the most diverse soundscapes the band have yet revealed. “The drums and bass are a really important factor there as well,” says Hrafn. “It’s one of the first tracks for me, actually, where I felt the groove foundation was well laid. It has this kind of laid back pop vibe to it.”
‘Unison Love’ is a true summer album. With a warm atmosphere and a lyrical, melancholic undertone, it’s bittersweet, and solid throughout. You can see the band at the Secret Solstice festival, which runs from 21st-23rd June—first in an ice cave on Saturday 22nd, then at the main festival site on Sunday 23rd, when they’ll share a stage with Patti Smith and Robert Plant. You can also catch them at Iceland Airwaves in November. Until then, may you be warm and well of heart with a record that will keep you ‘After Dark.’
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